Thursday, August 16, 2007

Jordan - Petra & Amman

Been over a week since I updated, posted so many entries in egypt wanted to take a break for a few days.  Ended up leaving Egypt last thursday...took a minibus to Nuweba where there is a ferry to Aqaba in Jordan.  I wanted to take the ferry b/c I thought it would be less of a hassle than crossing through israel, but I was very wrong.  First it was incredibly expensive, cost $68 to take the hour and a half ferry.  I got to Nuweba around 11:30 in the morning and the ferry was supposed to leave at 2:30...I go to buy the ticket and the ticket window isn't open.  End up having to wait around until 2pm to line up with an angry crowd of egyptians pushing and shoving and cutting in line to finally buy the ticket (you'd think for a $60 ferry ticket they'd be a little more organized...).  Get to the port only to find out the ferry is late and won't be leaving till around 5pm...more waiting, finally get on the boat around 4:30, it leaves at five.  Very smooth ride, and fast, but it was miserable with about 20 different babies crying the whole ride and little kids running around wreaking havoc. 
Got to the port in Jordan and the customs people hold us on the boat for over an hour, I somehow push my way out near first in line, only to get to customs and have them tell us it would take an hour to process the foreigner visas.  Didn't end up getting out of there till 9:30...was planning on going straight to Petra, but decided to take a taxi to town and find a room.  Met a couple Japanese backpackers who could barely speak english, and we booked a three person room together.
Next morning woke up early and took the first bus to Petra, found a room and hit the Petra ruins (ancient civilization that carved a city into the desert rocks...featured in the end of Indiana Jones 3).  Walked over 15km that day and didn't eat anything till around 4:30.  Ruins were very nice though, was able to see everything I wanted in one day which was good because a 1 day ticket was about $30 and 2 day was close to $40 (many people spend 2-3 days there).  There is a really cool 1km long narrow gorge you walk through to get to the main temple there.  I was a little disappointed by the temples...They are really impressive looking from the outside, but I expected they would continue deep into the rock.  Mostly though, they are just a facade, nothing to explore inside.  There is one temple up a mountain that was about 800 steps to climb up...made the hike and it was worth it.  A lot of great views of the desert up there.
Morning after that I took a bus into Amman, still with the Japanese guys...we arrive and none of the taxi drivers know the hostel we are trying to go to & the japanese guys only have a guidebook in japanese.  After a lot of arguing between each other one of the drivers says he knows and takes us...he didn't know, had to ask his friend on the way...f-ing taxi drivers are the same everywhere. Met an Israeli guy travelling up there and a Korean girl at the hostel and we went to Iraq Al Amir, the palace of an ancient jewish family that controlled the area a few thousand years ago.  Mostly ruins, but the israeli guy was a history major so he gave us the whole story of the family and the history of the area, which was interesting.  To get there had to take a taxi who ripped us off, then a bus, then a minibus...was a little adventure.  The ride back was much easier. 
My dad has a customer in Amman named Mahar and he promised to show me around the city and the area.  So that night I met up with him and he took me for dinner and drinks.  He was a really fun guy and we ended up hanging out for another 3 days.  I didn't have much to do in Amman, but I wasn't in a huge rush to get to israel...was pretty bored during the day, but had a lot of fun hanging out with Mahar every night.  One afternoon he took me to Jerash, a city about 30min away where there are ancient Roman was very nice, almost a whole city preserved in ruins.  At night there was a music festival there with performances from all over the world and had a good time watching those.  Was difficult to have to much fun in Amman though, because my hostel had a 12pm curfew...had to cut the drinking with Mahar short every night. 
On tuesday I decided to go to Israel and Mahar dropped me off at the border and I went through, met a few US marines travelling on the bus, and rode with them to Jerusalem.  I had bought a new cell phone in Amman and immediately bought a sim card and got in touch with my family...was able to meet up with them (after almost getting screwed by israeli cab drivers...i hate them, why can't they all just have meters!)  So now I'm staying in a very nice I think 4 star hotel here in Jerusalem getting spoiled on good food and nice beds.  My cousin's wedding is tonight and I'll be sure to write about that, it's a Jewish orthodox wedding, so it should be an interesting experience. 


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